Follow the public art landscape through the city and it won’t be long before you’ve sampled the best the city offers from the ground up.
A great way to start is with Sculpture Walk Springfield, an initiative that added nearly two dozen sculptures downtown in 2017. Touring the city via sculpture is a way to “wander with a purpose,” said Nick Nelson, director of the Springfield Art Museum.
“I think for the visitor, when you are taking part in something like Sculpture Walk and go place to place and look at these works, it’s a wonderful way to enjoy art, but you get to know the city as well,” he said. “Many are located near restaurants and stores and other places you can visit to shop or eat.”
Kimber Fiebiger's whimsical sculptures of "Maestro & Eggcited" in Springfield, Missouri.
It’s easy to get started. Find a map and descriptions at sculpturewalkspringfield.org. Brochures are available at some downtown businesses, Community Foundation of the Ozarks, the Creamery Arts Center and the Springfield Route 66 Visitor Center. Viewing the collection is a great self-guided activity, but a docent-led walk can be requested or arrange a sculpture-themed Trolley Bike tour.
The sculptures vary from abstract to surrealistic.
“We try to create shows with as much diversity as we can,” said the program’s director, Nicole Brown.
"Gorgonia" by Nick Willett in Springfield, Missouri.
Similar to a program in Sioux Falls, South Dakota — one inspiration for Springfield’s effort — artists are invited to submit work for consideration. Each exhibit stays up for about 10 months then new pieces go on display. It keeps the exhibit fresh and accessible as visitors explore what downtown offers, including live music, theaters, movies, craft breweries, galleries and the monthly First Friday Art Walk.
Sculpture throughout the city is a longtime tradition
“The Tumbler,” also on the square, was installed in 1971. Farther north, the “Dr. Tickle Memorial Sculpture” and other works enhance Historic Commercial Street where visitors can also dine, browse vintage markets, find craft brews or shop the seasonal C-Street Market. From Commercial Street, it’s minutes to the Moon City Creative District known for its painted telephone poles and the artists who live and work there.
On the southeast side, visit the quirky interactive “Cloud House” in Farmers Park. Stay for Farmers Market of the Ozarks, Parties at the Park and to shop and dine. A few miles west, get a selfie with the 35-foot fork sculpture in Chesterfield Village before lingering over a casual meal at a local eaterie.
A sculpture walk of another kind is at Nathanael Greene/Close Memorial Park where sculptures depicting children, nature and members of the community are part of the landscape. The park also features demonstration gardens, play areas, a butterfly house, walking paths, a lake, the Mizumoto Japanese Stroll Garden and an 1860s farmstead.
Permanent installments continue to grow in Center City’s Jordan Valley Park, home of the Creamery Arts Center and “Kinetic Man,” a popular interactive sculpture that looks like a giant robot. The nature-inspired “Pantree,” a piece in the loaned Sculpture Walk collection, was purchased for the park and a set of four sculptures was added to the park in late 2017.